Posts Tagged ‘DNA match’

45 Years of Tears

December 6, 2017

pr-phoneAt Ezer Mizion’s busy office, the phone does not stop ringing. At times, it is the ubiquitous telemarketing call. Other calls are requesting information. Some calls can be as brief as several sentences but leave the staff member stunned. Like this one received by Chani :

“Where were you 45 years ago? When my son needed a bone marrow transplant? I took my two daughters to be tested at UCLA but they were not a genetic match.” Then her voice faltered, “Before we could try more people, my son— my son—- my son died.” Her voice broke but she tried to continue speaking, “I want to give you a donation. Your organization is so important.  I only wish it had been in existence 45 years ago. Perhaps he could have been saved.” She was overcome by tears and hung up the phone.   The pain of losing a child does not disappear, even after 45 yrs.

That’s why Ezer Mizion’s Bone Marrow Registry was founded. For people like this lady’s son. Jewish people who need a DNA match to save their lives. Ezer Mizion receives calls from oncology clinics around the world   and has saved over 2600 lives with genetically matching donors from its 850,000 registrants.

Matan was only ten years old when he was diagnosed with leukemia. A diagnosis of MDS soon followed. By age twelve, his bone marrow was deteriorating and it was soon obvious that without a transplant, he would not turn 13. Would a DNA match be found? In time?

Matan was one of the fortunate ones.   Yifat was a newly married young girl.  Years ago, she had registered with Ezer Mizion’s Bone Marrow Registry, never expecting to actually be called. But the call did come.  It was she who could save the life of Matan, a young boy who would later mature and marry, producing his own children. “I went insane with joy,” she describes the day she received the call. “Of course I said yes.”

Yifat, now expecting her first child, met Matan for the first time recently. “I’m feeling great!” Matan fairly shouted when he was asked. “Of course, I plan to go to the simcha when Matan’s baby is born. We’re sister and brother now. Her blood is in me.”

It is no longer 45 years ago when patient after patient died while waiting for a DNA match to be found.  Matan had a lovely Bar Mitzvah celebration. It was tears of joy that were shed by his parents as they thought to themselves, “What if there had been no Ezer Mizion?”

For further info: 718 853 8400     5225 New Utrecht Ave Bk NY 11219         http://www.ezermizion.org

 

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What Goes Around, Comes Around

August 30, 2017

helping handssIt’s been said many times. Help others when you can. It’s a chessed. It’s the right thing to do. And, in addition, you never know when you may be on the other side of the fence. Batya is proof of this. About fifteen years ago, her daughter’s kidney issues that she had suffered with since the age of twelve reached a new low and only a kidney transplant could save her. Batya and her son were both good matches but Batya insisted that she be the one to donate. Her son has his whole life ahead of him. Should anything go wrong, she felt she could never forgive herself. Shortly after the transplant, her daughter gave birth to the first of two adorable grandchildren for Batya to cuddle and spoil. Imagine, a few days of discomfort and Batya earned grandchildren, great-grandchildren…eternity.

 

All was wonderful in her world until fifteen years later when Batya found herself on the other side of the fence. She wasn’t feeling well. A diagnosis was not long in coming. MDS: a life-threatening disease. . Her health condition deteriorated and blood transfusions were needed. The doctors asserted that her only chance to survive was a stem cell donation. Now it was she that needed another person with the same DNA to come forward to save her life. Ezer Mizion, the largest Jewish registry in the world, was contacted and Batya waited by the phone.  Would it ring? Would a donor be found?

 

She didn’t have too long to wait. Afik Zack, an intern in the Justice Department, was found, from over 850,000 on the Ezer Mizion database, to be a hundred percent match.

 

“At first, I didn’t understand what exactly I was supposed to undergo, and I was a little nervous. But then I learned that the donation is a simple procedure, and I agreed to go ahead with it,” says Zack. “After all, life is a circle.  It could be me that needed someone else to save my life. I would certainly want that person to say yes. It’s hard to describe the feeling I had when I realized that I’d done it. I’d done what other people only dream about. I had saved a life!” he added.

 

So far, 2,463 lifesaving transplants have taken place, thanks to the Ezer Mizion Registry. Some are from Israel. Others are from the US, Canada, South America, Europe, South Africa, Australia…wherever there are Jews.  “It is a great privilege for us to be partners in saving human lives,” said Dr. Bracha Zisser, director of the Registry. “The story of Batya and Afik is a moving, gripping tale of mutual responsibility, the fundamental value of Ezer Mizion.”

 

For further info: www.ezermizionusa.org      5225 New Utrecht Ave Bk NY 11219           718 853 8400

 

 

The See-Saw Remains on Up

April 26, 2017

DNA 3Everyone dreams about it. Very few ever have the opportunity. I was one of those very few. True, I didn’t jump into the ocean and save a child from drowning or dash into a burning building to save a baby but I did save a life. A forty-year-old cancer patient had only one chance to survive—a bone marrow transplant. A genetic match is vital for success and I was that genetic match. An Ezer Mizion staff member asked me if I would do it. Would I do it???! How could I not do it?! How could I live the rest of my life knowing that because of a little discomfort, a little inconvenience, a young woman was prevented from living the rest of hers?

Thus said N.D. a law student residing in Israel.

Plans were made. Appointments were set. I was given a run-down of what to expect and all was set to go until I received the phone call. Ezer Mizion thanked me for agreeing to donate but was cancelling the procedure. The woman’s condition had taken a turn for the worse and she was not in any condition to receive the transplant.

I was crushed. By this time, I was identifying with this anonymous person as if she were a close member of my family. And she would be. It would be my blood that would be coursing through her veins. And now it was not to be. I pictured her lying on her death bed with her family gathered around her. I wanted to be there with them. I wanted to hug her and tell her I’m so sorry. Instead I just stood there, still holding the phone. Numb. I read the obituaries for weeks after that, wondering at each entry, “Was that her?”

I was very involved in my university courses at the law school. It was in the middle of major exams when Ezer Mizion appeared once again on my display screen. “Your patient’s condition has improved. She can handle a transplant now but it must be done immediately. Are you available to begin the prep?”

The test I had studied all night for. The notes I had just copied for next week’s test. Grades. Reports… All meaningless now. All I wanted to know is what time I should be there.

My mother was even more excited than I was. She had had cancer at a similar age and is healthy now. She felt that by her daughter donating marrow, she would have a chance to ‘give back’.

At Schneider’s Hospital, I was told I would need 4-5 days of injections to increase the stem cells in my body. On the big day, my blood would be drawn, the stem cells separated from it, then returned to my body. This would continue all day until enough stem cells had accumulated. Then the little ‘bag of life’ would be infused into my ‘blood-sister’. We would be in the same hospital but we would not meet due to international law. Oh, how I longed to hold her hand during the procedure! But I would have to be patient. If all goes well, we’d be allowed to meet in two years.

I can’t deny that the injection period was uncomfortable but every ache was erased   when I watched them bring that little bag to its destination.

I was told that we were a 100% DNA match. Very unusual, they said. Now I lie in bed wondering who my DNA twin is. An unknown cousin perhaps? In one year, I am allowed to ask about her condition. Just knowing that she is healthy will be enough for me. And, if she is willing, in two years, I may meet the person who is alive because I didn’t say no.

A Bone Marrow Registry Nightmare: He Said No!

March 29, 2017

Two Men DebatingAvigayil has successfully trained many in public speaking as head of TED, a worldwide organization whose website attracts viewers that number into the millions. She is passionate about her profession and believes anyone can speak publicly if he is excited about his topic. One would assume that if Avigayil were to take the podium herself, Public Speaking would be her focus. But she says otherwise. “There is something I am even more enthusiastic about. In fact, if it were not for that subject, I would not be here today. What is it? It’s leukemia.

Uninvited, leukemia visited me twice. The second time, the doctors didn’t hold out much hope. In fact, the only possibility of survival depended on a bone marrow transplant. And the chances of finding a genetic match, so vital for success, weren’t that great. I became quite depressed. Who wouldn’t be under such conditions? But then the sun shone again. A match was found. I began to make plans again. Things were looking up.

It never occurred to me that there would be a hitch at this stage. But there was. This DNA match, the only one in the world that we knew about at the time, the only person who could save my life…changed his mind. Thud! My spirits plummeted from Euphoria to Gloom.

My one and only chance to live had said no. I couldn’t fathom it. But Ezer Mizion didn’t waste any time being upset. They just said, “Ok. Back to the computers. We’ll find you another one.” I didn’t have much hope. Two miracles? Isn’t that too much to hope for? At Ezer Mizion, miracles seem to happen often. They did find a second one.   But he was on vacation in Tiberias with his wife. Of course, everyone expected him to say no. After all, a lot of effort and money goes into planning a vacation.

“Where should I report? What time?” was the response.

I’m healthy now. I have a long life to look forward to. A year after the transplant, I met my savior. We spoke for hours but the most important thing I was not able to say. How does one say thank you for saving a life?

If I were to take the podium, this is what I would speak about: Ezer Mizion, the largest Jewish registry in the world with over 800,000 registrants, an organization that just doesn’t give up!

 

For further info: www.ezermizion.org              5225 New Utrecht Ave Bk NY 11219             718 853 8400